This is Not a Rehearsal

We sang and danced with strangers last night.

Our fifth and likely the last concert we’ll be going to this year, and the first time we’ve seen U2 perform live.

We’re concert people.

We try to get tickets for something we like every couple of months, and since we’ve moved to London we’ve been lucky enough to sing along pretty much all our favorite musicians.

We’ve been to smaller venues and we’ve been to big, tens-of-thousands-of-fans gigs. We know the O2 Arena inside and out by now, we’ve had seats all over the place in the Royal Albert Hall, we’ve sung and danced in Hyde Park in all weathers.

We’re rock people, we’re folk people, we’re pop people, we’re jazz people.

We’re concert people.

As U2 were wrapping up their gig last night, the third and final national day of mourning in Romania was coming to an end.

We followed the crowds out of the O2, into a night of fog and wintery smells. We queued outside the tube station for a while. People were lighting up cigs, knotting scarves, buttoning smartphones, humming Elevation. It figures. Concert people. Always humming something.

Last Friday, a nightclub fire killed 32 and severely injured 140 young people attending a rock concert in Bucharest.

As details of the tragedy have unraveled, and the authorities’ and public’s reactions have been making their way to me, I’ve sunk deeper and deeper into a state of infinite hopelessness.

It’s a complicated story to tell. This history of my hopeless relationship with my country and my past. A past which, like all pasts, constantly seeps into the present and keeps the wounds open.

In a parallel world, who knows if I’ll ever see U2 perform live. I live in a beautiful Romanian city in the heart of Transilvania. I work long hours, relentlessly climbing my way up the corporate ladder. I’m married to a guy I’ve been seeing for a few years. We own our home together. We have a dog, a cat, or both. My mom drops by unannounced, with Dutch biscuits and home made gerkins. I have at least three friends playing in rock bands. At least one of these rock bands is well known locally. I go to all their gigs. Most times they’re in nightclubs randomly popped up in the basements of historical, crumbling buildings, or in old factories. I make my way to the very front. Never count the emergency exits. Can’t tell if the ceilings are flammable. Can’t use a fire extinguisher. Have astma. Never called 911. I know all the lyrics. I’m with the concert people.

In a parallel world, if I die at a rock concert, it will probably be my own fault. I should have stayed at home. I shouldn’t like rock. The all-powerful God of parallel worlds doesn’t approve of concert people. I should know that.

I’ve lived in a parallel world for most of my life. Then I moved to London.

I get glimpses of it, my parallel country and its many parallel layers of grief.

They break my heart.


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